Food For Thought



A debate/discussion about whether Christianity perpetrates racism is ongoing within a segment of the African-American community. Questions raised by that debate/discussion are understandable and deserve analysis. Much of the controversy stems from the negative connotations the larger society  associates with the term “black” and the positive ways in which  “white” is presented. However, to  connect those associations to skin color is wrong. As an in-depth study of Scripture shows, it is also wrong to use Christian Scripture to justify racial discrimination.

White Supremacists assert that black is inferior to white; therefore justifying racial segregation and  subjugation.. They often cite Christian Scripture to prove their theory. However, a close examination of Scripture does not support racial superiority. In fact, the passages of Scripture often referred  to by Supremacists have absolutely nothing to do with skin color. Nevertheless, they persist in inappropriately citing Scripture to explain and justify racism.

Racial superiority theories are etiological and highlight the degree to which humans seek to explain differences and to use those differences to create a false sense of superiority for some and a position of subjugation for others. Ignorant, malicious, and narrow-minded people misappropriate Scripture to validate: institutionalized racism, annihilation, and other forms of abuse. Their corrupt thoughts manifested in brutal, demeaning, and fatal behaviors are antithetical to Christian Scripture.  Therefore, it is unfair to blame Christianity for the deviant representation of the tradition by a highly visible, vocal, and ill-informed minority.

As previously stated, an authentic examination of  Scripture does not support the theory of racial superiority (see my exegesis of Paul’s Letter to Philemon for a perspective on Christian thought about slavery). To the contrary, racial a strictly human concept. Humans have a history of corrupting even the most laudable ideals, philosophies, and theologies to gain and maintain the upper hand on fellow humans. Misquoting Scripture to segregate based upon skin color is just one of the myriad ways some seek to accomplish those goals.

Sincerely Wrong


Over the course of my adult life I have had the honor and privilege of meeting and forming meaningful relationships with many multi-talented, generous, gracious, wise, and deeply spiritual women.  The women, of whom I speak, were: South Koreans, Dutch, and Americans representing a wide range of backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures.  They were also from different religious traditions. There were Roman Catholics, Jewish women, and Protestants.   Each of them enhanced the quality of my life by contributing to my personal, professional, and spiritual development.

The women lived exemplary, but not perfect, lives. In most cases, they juggled career and family responsibilities. They generously shared their wisdom, talents, and material wealth with me. They encouraged me and gave me guidance about men, family, and church. They shared their values and beliefs with me. They were genuinely and unabashedly humble and because of their influences I am a more well-rounded and centered person than I might otherwise have become.

Many years ago when I lived in Charlottesville, Virginia I met Mrs. D. – one of the wisest people I have ever known. She was also the wife of the pastor of a very small Pentecostal church I attended.  During one of our many talks about the practical application of Scripture,  Mrs. D. responded to a comment (I don’t recall the topic) by saying:  “A person can be sincerely wrong.”  To highlight the efficacy of her statement, she referenced the Scriptural account of the Apostle Paul’s persecution of the Believers prior to his own conversion.

Mrs. D. reminded us that, in words attributed to him, the Apostle Paul consented to and participated in the persecution of Jesus’ followers because he sincerely believed he was caring out God’s will. Later Paul concluded that he had been wrong, and the rest is history, as is often said. He became a giant of the Christian Faith and one of the most prolific writers of the New Testament.

Like Paul, before his Damascus Road experience, I have often found myself making statements and behaving in ways that sincerely reflect my heartfelt beliefs. However, after much prayer, meditation, and a careful analysis of Scripture, I have, more often than not, found myself in error-despite my sincerity.  When that happens, I pray for forgiveness and spiritual eyes, ears, and an empathetic heart.  Then I look for ways to put into practice whatever spiritual lesson(s) I have learned.

Thank God for the nurturing women whose paths have crossed mine and for the powerful life lessons that I learned from them.


First Jobs: Part 1

Many people in my age group (60-75) have worked at jobs and paid taxes from our wages since we were about 16-years-old. Like many young people today, our first jobs weren’t glamorous nor did they pay well. We were just happy and proud to work and to contribute to the upkeep of our families.

If memory serves me right, my first full-time paid position was that of sheet folder in a laundry in my hometown. I worked either the 4:00 P.M. to 12:00 A.M. shift or the 3:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. shift (I don’t remember which).  Mrs.. Brown, a wife, mother, and a very godly woman who lived in my neighborhood worked at the laundry and told me about the job. I applied, and as is often said the rest is history.

I started off making $1.00 or less an hour. Some of the older women workers came to me and told me that I should consider doing piece work because I could make more money that way. They explained that I was young and could work hard and fast and that piece work would be to my advantage. I took the women’s advice. I remember being happy about making more money; but for the life of me I don’t recall how much more money I made. I just know that I was happy. I could buy things for my siblings and I could help my mother pay our bills. We didn’t have to rely on others for help.

Then someone told me that the laundry across town was paying $1.50 an hour and that I could get hired there. So, I went to work at the laundry that paid $1.50 an hour. Once again, older ladies in the company talked to me about the benefit of doing piece work. So, I started doing piece work and earning more money (I’m sure it was only a few pennies more than $1.50; but I was happy).

Praise God I didn’t work there too long. I got fired, probably for talking back or for being late. However, at the time I thought it was because some of the older women had gotten jealous and wanted me out-of-the-way. Whatever the reason for the firing, it embarrassed and   I had lost my $1.50 an hour job and my financial ability to help my immediate family. I didn’t want the money to buy things for myself. I desperately wanted to work and help keep my family out of poverty. Little did I know that firing was probably one of the best things that would ever happen to me! From it I began to understand the following life lessons:

  • When one door closes another opens
  • God always has a ram in the bush
  • When things go awry, grab on to something sturdy and hold on until it is safe to let go
  • Words of wisdom and encouragement  from my talented,smart, and beautiful mother, “Don’t let nobody or nothing get you down.

First Jobs: Part 2

When I was very young two powerful forces shaped the work ethic that I practiced most of my life.  The first  of those influences  were the adults in my life. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (during the 1950s) I was surrounded by hardworking, mostly Black, adults.  Many of the men worked in one of the steel mills that dotted the landscape. In my early childhood, my late father, Robert (Bobby) Hoots, Sr., was one of those men. My paternal grandfather, affectionately known to his grandchildren as Daddy Hoots; my tall handsome maternal Uncle Donnie McKinley (who turned 87 this year), and my uncle by marriage, Herbert Grandison started working in the mills when they were young men and worked there until they retired.

Like the men in my family, other men in my neighborhood worked in one of Pittsburgh’s steel mills or factories. There were also Black medical doctors and dentists (to my recollection all of them were males); teachers, preachers, and entrepreneurs. Black men worked as stock clerks, in laundries, and as bartenders. Many of those men held two jobs to support their families and to earn enough money to buy their first home.  For the most part, they were decent, law-abiding, and hard-working.

The women who weren’t stay-at-home-moms worked in diverse industries in various capacities. Some were domestic workers. Others, like my dearly beloved and now deceased Aunt Cora Elizabeth (Aunt Lizzie) were Licensed Practical Nurses, Registered Nurses; teachers, sales clerks, telephone operators, secretaries, and bank tellers. Women also worked in one of the many factories that were located in Pittsburgh such as the H. J. Heinz Company and Westinghouse Electric. If memory serves me right, a lot of Black women (and men) worked in the housekeeping departments of Pittsburgh’s hospitals and universities.

Stay-at-home-moms cleaned their homes, the sidewalks of the blocks on which they lived, and the hallways and  stairwells of their apartment buildings. They scrubbed and waxed floors, sometimes getting down on their knees. They used a washboard to get their white clothes and linens sparkling clean (dingy clothes were a disgrace). then they did the painstaking work of pulling the laundry through the wringer of their washing machines; placing the laundry  in a basket; lugging the basket of laundry  to where the backbreaking task of hanging the laundry on a clothesline began. They also cooked and baked from scratch and without benefit of air-conditioning. They rose early to pack their husbands’ lunches into old metal lunch boxes or  brown paper bags.  All the women I knew took great pride in their housework.

Scripture was also a powerful influence in molding my work ethic.  Reading and studying Scripture from an early age I came to appreciate and value all forms of legitimate work. I also  developed an understanding of the  importance of working diligently and doing the best job possible. Watching the adults around me eke out a living, and listening to them speak proudly about their work, coupled with my understanding of Scriptures such as, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for humans,” (Colossians 3:23) and “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,”(2 Thessalonians 3:10) laid the foundation for my work ethic.

It  was because of those early life lessons that I took great pride in my first jobs.  I practiced what Scripture teaches about work and I imitated that which I had seen the adults I admired do